(Consider this my foodie Friday contribution). When I heard that Whole Foods was trying to buy smaller natural food chain Wild Oats, I was a little disappointed. When we lived in Princeton, NJ a couple of years ago, there was a small, local Wild Oats in walking distance from campus. But while I was there, a huge, new shiny Whole Foods opened a couple of miles away. They didn’t compete much because Wild Oats catered to the walking/biking crowd around campus, and Whole Foods, the suburbanites with cars (I was both). I didn’t want them to close Wild Oats but I thought, worst case scenario, if they close Wild Oats, it means the local Co-op, also walking distance from campus, will do even better. But some of the folks I know who are still in Princeton were quite upset about the prospect.
Now, the Federal Trade Commission is challenging the merger citing, believe it or not, Anti-trust concerns. In a world where Safeway and even Wal-Mart are selling their own brands of organic food, a merger of this scale is in no way an anti-trust violation. An opinion piece by Daniel Gross in Slate explains the issue in great detail. Gross Begins:
The U.S. attorney scandal has raised fears that the Bush administration is misusing the levers of government to punish political opponents. Now I think I’ve uncovered another sinister example of the administration using government lawyers to stick it to liberals. And this time, Bush is aiming for the belly!
Gross goes on to illustrate how the FTC allows huge mergers like that of AT&T and Cingular to occur, but somehow doesn’t want to encourage growth in a more progressive industry.